Flying Billboard Gets Mixed Reviews


Southwest Airlines has received mixed reviews for its recent promotion of Sports Illustrated’s 2009 Swimsuit issue. 

The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 features Sports Illustrated cover girl Bar Refaeli in a, hold on to your hat, ‘bikini!’ And yes, this has caused controversy.   The Sacramento Bee noted that some passengers complained that they are being forced to board an aircraft plastered with soft porn.  I think that is a bit dramatic, but did enjoy this comment from one woman who was quoted in the article: “Many women do not enjoy having their husbands exposed to explicit pictures…”

Really? You don’t want your husband to see that? I wonder if she lets him read the Sunday JC Penny ads which include models wearing nothing more than bras and panties; literally!  I have to give kudos to Southwest for being the fun-loving, daring and ‘most on-time’ little airline that we all have grown to love. 

I also appreciate the fact that Southwest Airlines neither cowards or folds under this fake controversy.  Folio reported that a Southwest spokesperson said about a quarter of the response it has received about the promotion so far has been negative. “As with anything that’s different and unique, you do hear from some people who disagree,” the spokesperson said. “We wanted to make sure it was in good taste before we put it up on the aircraft.”

And isn’t that the truth.  Our job as marketers is to be different and unique.  And in being different and unique one is bound to garner the attention of those with far too much time on their hands and those who well, obviously don’t look so hot in a bikini (or Speedo).  So, great job to Sports Illustrated and Southwest Airlines for a marketing promotion that is, well, working. 


And for those of you who are not faithful US Weekly readers, Bar Refaeli is an Israeli supermodel, currently dating actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Just so you know…

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